Congratulations to Megan Shafritz who was sworn in today by Governor Phil Scott at the Washington County Courthouse in Montpelier. The court room was packed with friends and family, along with refreshments provided by the Washington County and Chittenden County Bar Associations.
First to speak on Megan Shafritz’s behalf was Deputy Attorney General, Joshua Diamond. Josh relayed the story about how he first worked with Shafritz eight years ago, when he was on the other side of a complicated campaign finance case. When they saw each other at a ski event, Shafritz said “nice creative writing!” He admired the ‘trash talk,’ promised himself he’d win the case, but then, in fact, lost. He enjoyed watching their kids ski together over the years while being legal adversaries. Josh remarked about how competent, open-minded and fair she has always been, a legal rock, with passion for coworkers and clients, noting that the attorney general’s office will miss her. Diamond next introduced Federal District Court Judge Christina Reiss as the keynote speaker.
Judge Reiss first jokingly noted her surprise at being called a ‘keynote’ speaker, but that she was delighted to speak on Megan Shafritz’s behalf. She has known Shafritz since Megan and her renowned Mayo Clinic surgeon husband, Adam, first came to Vermont, choosing family and community over glamor and gain. Reiss has admired Shafritz for raising two great Vermont citizens, their children, while working full time as a public servant without complaint. Judge Reiss chose to describe Megan Shafritz with one word: equanimity. Not finding any good jokes or quotes about the word on the internet, she described equanimity more broadly as being calm and even-tempered, composed and self-possessed, an even-minded philosophy of service and duty, a calmness lending itself to serving others with blind justice. Equanimity, then, is the gift that Judge Shafritz will bring to the bench, humility and patience, unthreatened, composed, competent and open-minded.
As an aside, Judge Reiss told the story about a dispute within the very contentious, complex and high-profile GMO labeling case that Shafritz litigated. At one point, Judge Reiss was informed that there was a reproduction of all the emails between the parties about a discovery dispute. Dreading those disputes that remind one of wrestling with a pig (the dirty messy awful fight, where you find out sooner or later, that the pig enjoys it), she asked her law clerk to read it first, fearing the worst. But instead, Judge Reiss found to her pleasant surprise, that even where the lawyers disagreed about every single thing, not once did Megan Shafritz lose her temper or treat her colleagues with disrespect. That moment just highlighted in her mind how even-tempered and well-balanced Megan Shafritz is.
Next Governor Phil Scott approached the podium to administer the oath. Jokingly, he stated “whatever Judge Reiss said.” Governor Scott reiterated that judges have enormous weight and responsibility and was so pleased that Shafritz chose Vermont among their unlimited opportunities. He praised Megan Shafritz for being an avid skier, but spending countless hours on the road supporting her kids’ activities—a great lawyer and a great mom. He reminded all those present what his views are on Vermont values: 1. Remember the golden rule (including when “tweeting” others); 2. Own and learn from your mistakes and use them to make things better and 3. Understand the importance of integrity. He congratulated Megan Shafritz for emulating Vermont values and his criteria for judicial excellence and then proceeded to administer the oath.
Judge Megan Shafritz next took the podium, joking that she felt like Oscar winner Allison Janney, when she jokingly stated: “I did it all by myself” at the Oscars. Noting that it was certainly not true in her case, Judge Shafritz thanked the Governor, her colleagues, her mentor Judge Reiss, Bill Sorrel for hiring her, TJ Donovan, all the outstanding deputies, Bill Griffin, the unsung hero, her fellow division chiefs that made her job fun and all her colleagues that made her a better lawyer and person. She thanked her parents, the Jacobsons, for being role models, supporting educational curiosity, letting her believe that anything was possible, even when she wanted to be the next Pelé or President and giving her confidence and spirit. She also thanked her family for love and support, including her daughter, Emily, and her sense of fairness and poise, her son, Justin, and his curiosity and humor and her husband, best friend and high school sweetheart, Adam, who shared the Vermont journey with her. She also thanked her in-laws who were present and her brother who lives in London.
After joking that she wanted to be a judge because she liked to drive and would get guaranteed parking at the courthouses, Judge Shafritz spoke of the promise of the oath, to do equal right and justice to all persons and to treat them with dignity and respect. She will be honored to do so in continuing her passion for public service and will strive, as Judge Katz taught her many years ago, to be herself, and most importantly to be the best version of herself.
Please enjoy pictures of the ceremony, below!